Life is full of a lot of firsts. Your first car. The first time you traveled abroad. And who can forget their first love? But what about your first “financial advisor?”

This person is probably not even a professional financial advisor. And depending on who it is, he or she may or may not hold such a prominent place in your memory. But maybe that should change. After all, this was the individual who taught you the building blocks of good budgeting, instilled smart money management in you, or gave you a strong foundation for saving and investing.

Without a doubt, some of the most valuable money lessons came from your first financial coach.

Who was your “first financial advisor?”

We asked winners of The Ally Big Save what they learned from their first “financial advisors.” You’ll probably find their teachings universal. Better yet, they may even inspire you to reach out and thank that one person in your life for teaching you a thing or two about money.

Jenna Gonzales credits her parents (shown above) with teaching her the value of spending money on experiences.

My parents made sure we learned the importance of spending money on experiences and memories instead of on things. They limited how much they spent on food and clothes so we could afford other things we wanted to do. And we did it all — dance classes, went to summer camp, played softball, baseball and football!

As an adult, I’ve made experiencing the world a high priority in my life and have been fortunate to travel to 23 countries and 5 continents. I am often asked how I can afford to travel that much. Here’s the thing: I don’t make more money than many of the people making that comment to me. It’s the simple things in life that help me save money: packing a lunch instead of eating out, drive a used car, pay off my credit card every month, shop for price instead of convenience.

These financial choices allow me to have the financial freedom I want. But this isn’t a habit I was born with. I had to learn it from my parents. -Jenna Gonzales, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Krista Storey’s grandmother and grandfather lived conservatively and as a result, saved a significant amount.

My grandfather was a career soldier in the military, and my grandmother received a monthly allowance to care for the family. She provided well-rounded meals but never purchased anything that wasn’t needed. Each week, my dad would walk to the bank with a white envelope containing the leftover household allowance. My grandmother used that money to buy bonds and CDs (certificates of deposit). With that savings, she was able to buy cars and homes. -Krista Storey, Batesville, Indiana

Olivia Davis is teaching her sister (both seen here) to be financially independent.

Undoubtedly, my first financial advisor was my mother, who worked her way up to director status in the New Jersey Department of Treasury. She lost her battle with breast cancer in 2012, but I often laugh thinking of how many hours I spent listening to her lectures on financial independence and saving money. Her voice still resounds in my mind, which is not always appreciated — namely when I want to splurge on a new pair of shoes or dinner out when I could eat the leftovers in the fridge.

I can no longer say thank you in-person to my mother, but I am passing her teachings along to my younger sister and leading her towards independence, including walking her through the steps to open a savings account, in which she plans to direct deposit $10 to $20 per week. I think our mother would be so proud of the way we’ve both grown up and the journey we’re on to be financially free. -Olivia Davis, Willingboro, New Jersey

Melinda McMahan kept financial records for her grandmother (seen above), learning about compounding interest and the stock market in the process.

During junior high, I would walk to my grandmother’s house after school, and she’d put me to work. It became my job to update her ledgers of all her stock dividends that she received every quarter. She lived frugally on Social Security and her dividend checks, so I made sure that she received all of them, logged them, and calculated her return on investment. Eventually, I started going to her financial advisor’s office with her and learning about the stock market.

My grandmother also had savings accounts all over town and would move her money when interest rates went up at a different bank. She taught me that 0.25 percent interest makes a difference and that compounding interest made a big impact. Her investments meant that she was able to live comfortably at home, despite failing health. –Melinda McMahan, Houston Texas

Your First “Financial Advisor” Discussion:

  • Who was your first “financial advisor?”
  • What was the most important lesson(s) you learned?
  • How can you pay what you learned forward?

Let us know your answers in the comment section below.